Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer
Charlotte is one of North Carolina’s top cities for car accidents resulting in injury. The state has the sixth-highest cost in the country for car accident fatalities and ranks highest in the Southeast. Nearly $1.5 billion in damages are caused in North Carolina each year due to car accident fatalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What to do if you get in a Car Accident in Charlotte, NC
As soon as you get into a car accident, your first priority is to make sure everyone involved is safe. Contact the police to dispatch an ambulance (if needed) and to document the accident in a police report. While you’re waiting for authorities to arrive, gather information and evidence about the scene of the accident, including weather conditions, traffic signals and signs, vehicle damage, bodily injuries, and more. Take ample photos and videos for visual evidence. If anyone witnessed the accident, gather their statements, and contact information to use as additional testimony for your case.
How a Car Accident Attorney in Charlotte Can Help
You need a car accident attorney in Charlotte who knows what you’re going through and has the expertise to get you the settlement you deserve. Call Auger & Auger today at (704) 751-1475 to learn more about our legal services.
Insurance agents aren’t always on your side, and they’ll try to get you to settle for as little money as possible. Before calling your insurance company, contact an experienced car accident attorney in Charlotte to determine how much you should receive for your injuries and damages.
Need help today? Contact the Charlotte car accident lawyers of Auger & Auger Law Firm today at (704) 751-1475 for your free consultation.
Charlotte NC Laws and Processes for Car Accidents
When it comes to auto accidents, North Carolina is a contributory negligence state. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, if you are found to be partially at fault for an accident (even if you are only 1% negligent and the other driver is 99% negligent), you are barred from recovery. There are a few exceptions to the defense of contributory negligence. For instance, NC law presumes minor children under the age of 7 are incapable of contributory negligence. Additionally, situations involving the last clear chance doctrine and cases where gross negligence is present may trump contributory negligence. North Carolina is one of four states that still follow this archaic rule. Because of contributory negligence, it can be difficult for victims of car wrecks in Charlotte to claim damages, making it even more important to consult a local car accident lawyer after your wreck.
If you do decide to file a lawsuit against the other driver for damages under $25,000, you’ll need to file your case with the Mecklenburg District Court:
Phone: (704) 686-0400
Address: 832 East Fourth St., Charlotte, NC 28202
If you’re claiming damages above $25,000, you’ll need to file your case with the Superior Court at the same location. For damages less than $25,000, civil cases in Mecklenburg County are subject to court-ordered, non-binding arbitration.
When to Consult a Car Accident Lawyer in Charlotte
Auger & Auger, your dedicated Charlotte car accident lawyer, has recovered millions of dollars in settlements for clients since opening their Charlotte office in 1994. It is critically important that you consult with an experienced Charlotte car accident attorney shortly after your auto accident. Speaking to the insurance company before speaking to an attorney can jeopardize your case.
When you call our firm for your free consultation, you will speak with an experienced member of our car accident team. We will listen to your case, answer your questions, and give you advice on your rights under NC law and information on how you may be able to proceed. If we can help you, we will not charge a legal fee unless and until we obtain a settlement on your behalf.
Getting Compensation for Your Car Accident Injuries in Charlotte, NC
It is critical that accident victims have an accurate estimate of all of their damages, past, and future. Many accident victims will accept unfair settlement offers from insurance companies because they do not know that they have additional losses that could be covered. They may also fail to account for losses they will encounter in the future, such as the diminished resale value of a vehicle that has been repaired after a major crash.
Knowing about the types of damages available after a car accident in North Carolina is crucial to recovering all of your financial losses. You should also get the compensation you deserve for the non-financial impacts of your accident, such as the pain and suffering you felt while you recovered.
A car accident lawyer in Charlotte can use their familiarity with past cases similar to yours along with the input of medical and economic experts to provide an accurate, full accounting of all possible damages.
The following are the most common types of damages awarded after a Charlotte car accident lawyer successfully represents a case:
Dealing with Insurance Companies After Your Accident
The key to having a successful car accident case that progresses smoothly is understanding how insurers think and operate.
Attorney Arlene Auger was a former insurance carrier attorney representing some of the heavyweights in the industry. Her work in the insurance industry has given our firm experience in helping our clients obtain the compensation that they are entitled to. Through her guidance, a client can benefit from a personal injury attorney in Charlotte who knows the exact types of evidence and arguments insurers look for when weighing the strength of a claim.
Auger & Auger has a reputation for fighting hard on behalf of our clients. “We know how to maximize the value of each client’s case and resolve it in the shortest amount of time possible,” asserts Arlene Auger.
We provide you with a Charlotte car accident attorney who cares about your case and wants you to avoid common pitfalls associated not knowing how this process works.
The Insurance Company Is Not Your Friend
Filing a third-party liability claim with an insurer may seem like a simple process, but it really is not. Insurance companies want to pay out as little as possible on claims in order to make a larger profit. To accomplish this goal, they often offer accident victims low settlement amounts that fail to account for all of their full losses, past, and future.
In some cases, an insurer will attempt to reduce a claim or completely deny it using common arguments. They may allege that the accident victim received medical services that were not “necessary” in an attempt to pay for just the services they wish. They may even suggest that their policyholder was not at fault, giving them grounds to fight a claim in court.
Because of these tactics, accident victims should be cautious when dealing with insurers. They may not want to accept the first settlement offer they receive unless they have had all of their damages tabulated by an experienced legal professional. They should definitely be wary of discussing their injuries, pain, and healing process with insurers since such details can be used to allege that they are not hurt.
Appointing a car accident attorney in Charlotte to represent you gives you an ally who knows how to handle insurers. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf and advise you in all matters relating to insurers.
Don’t Give a Recorded Statement Without Consulting a Lawyer
One of the most effective methods insurers use to deny claims is to insist to accident victims that they should make a recorded statement. Once a victim makes this statement, the insurer can use any inconsistencies or contradictions in the accident narrative to dispute the claim’s grounds.
For example, the victim could say “I could barely walk after the accident,” and insurers can counter by saying their insured saw the victim walking just fine at the accident scene. Or, they could use statements made by the victim to allege they were partially at fault, making all damages unrecoverable according to North Carolina’s contributory negligence doctrine.
Again, having a personal injury attorney serve as your counsel and legal representative can prevent such tactics from being used effectively. Your lawyer acts as your advisor, and they can even speak to insurers for you in many instances to avoid you getting caught in a legal trap.
Types of Charlotte NC Car Accidents
Every case is different, and our representation is tailored to the individual needs of each client, as well as the obstacles presented in each case. While car accident circumstances may differ, some of the most frequent causes of car accidents in Charlotte are caused by:
- Head-On Collisions
- Teen Driver Car Accidents
- Chain Reaction and Tailgating
- Rear-End Accidents
- Hit and Run
- Intersection Collisions
- Bicycles hit by cars
- DUI Accidents
- Road Construction Accidents
- Rollover Accidents
- Accidents Involving Pedestrians
- Big Truck / Tractor Trailer Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
Common Injuries After a Serious Car Accident
Car accident injuries are incredibly common in Charlotte and in North Carolina as a whole. A study by the NC Department of Transportation found that crashes in 2017 caused a total of 127,964 injuries and 1,396 deaths.
The tremendous physical impact of car accidents can cause a number of serious injuries. Some injuries may require months for the victim to fully recover, while others can result in permanent effects, such as reduced use of an appendage, or even premature death.
The following are some of the most likely injuries that can occur after a car accident in Charlotte:
Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accident Cases
How Much Will a Car Accident in Charlotte Cost Me?
The total cost of a Charlotte car accident, in terms of the damages it causes, depends on the type of accident, whether any injuries were involved, and how long it takes any injured persons to heal.
A long-term study by the NCDOT shows that the total costs of a car accident injury or death can be quite significant.
- Fatal Crash: $10,462,000
- Serious Injury Crash: $590,000
- Minor – Moderate Injury Crash: $122,000
- Property Damage Only Crash: $7,000
- Average Crash: $99,000
As for the cost for you, as an accident victim, most vehicle accidents involving injuries will be paid for by one party or another’s liability insurance coverage. This insurance coverage is mandatory in North Carolina. Every vehicle owner is required to carry $30,000 in liability insurance coverage per-injury, and $60,000 per-accident.
If you cause an accident and injure someone else, your liability insurance coverage pays for those costs, up to the policy limit. Your liability insurance also covers the costs of vehicle repairs for the other individual(s) you’ve hit. The only cost to you would be an increase in your liability insurance premiums. According to a study by Nerdwallet, North Carolina has the second-highest insurance premium increase in the country after an accident. Compared to someone with an accident-free driving record, insurance premiums in the state will rise by as much as 83% after the policyholder causes a collision. The total cost of insurance premiums for someone with a recent accident on their record is $2,034 per year, on average.
If you sustained injuries caused by someone else in a car accident, then their liability insurance is supposed to pay for your injury treatment and repair costs, as well as lost wages and any other damages you have suffered.
There are only a few scenarios where a car accident will cost you money. They include:
- You caused the car accident, and you injured yourself/ caused damage to your vehicle, and you don’t have collision insurance/medical insurance/MedPay.
- Another driver hit you, they don’t have liability insurance, they fled, or their insurance information could not be obtained, and you do not have adequate uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your policy.
- You hit someone else, and you do not have the legally required minimum liability insurance.
- If your injury costs exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s liability policy.
- If another driver’s injury costs exceed your liability policy limits, and they decide to pursue you for the remaining damages.
After you have been hurt in an accident, working with a car accident attorney team in Charlotte ensures that you are able to calculate the full value of your damages, document them, and demand repayment from liability insurers. This representation increases the chances that you won’t be left on the hook paying for the costs of your own injury, especially when considering long-term costs.
In the event that you are injured and your injuries exceed the liability policy coverage — or no liability coverage is available — you can work with a Charlotte car accident lawyer to seek possible claims against other parties involved. Possible liable parties can include other drivers, the employer of a driver who hit you, and the manufacturer of a vehicle component that failed to protect you, among others.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?
An experienced car accident lawyer in Charlotte can provide beneficial services even in the context of a “minor” car accident.
First, recognize that the average cost in North Carolina for the lowest category of an injury crash is still $101,000. Many people can underestimate the long-term costs of treatment. They can also tend to underestimate the difference in income they will experience as a consequence of the injury. Additionally, some “minor” car accidents can result in injuries that are diagnosed later, if the accident victim neglects to get a full medical diagnosis immediately after their wreck.
Services provided by a car accident attorney in Charlotte include investigation of your accident, calculation of your damages, documentation of your injury costs, proof of the other party’s liability, and negotiation in the event of partial or total denial of insurance coverage. All of these services may increase the value of settlements offered compared to individuals who are not represented, though this result is not guaranteed.
With all this said, some car accidents involve minor damages and an insurance company that is eager to offer a reasonable settlement. In this scenario, the benefits of hiring an attorney may be relatively minor.
On the other hand, even a simple accident can become complicated quickly. If you suddenly realize your injuries are worse than you thought, an insurance company denies your claim, the other driver denies they were responsible for the accident, or you are being accused of being at-fault for the accident, then you may want to contact a car accident lawyer in Charlotte immediately. Their services reduce the risk that you will be required to pay out of pocket for damages that resulted from an accident you did not cause.
How Do Auto Accident Settlements Work?
In most contexts, a legal settlement is an agreement made between two parties where one party agrees to waive their right to pursue a lawsuit if the other party agrees to provide reasonable compensation for their damages (or demands).
After a typical car accident where someone is injured through the fault of another driver, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will offer a settlement in response to the injury victim’s claim. This settlement value is calculated by insurance actuaries using complex formulas, following an investigation by an adjuster. Insurance companies include hundreds of possible variables in these calculations, including the likely cost of a jury verdict against their favor if they decide to deny the claim.
The injury victim can also decide to calculate their own total damages with the help of a car accident lawyer in Charlotte. They can then disclose these damages in a demand letter, which requests compensation for all of their losses. When the insurance company receives the demand letter, they can compare the amount demanded with the amount they were prepared to offer. Negotiations may ensue, and a compromise can be made.
Once someone agrees to receive an insurance settlement, they waive their right to pursue the matter any further, with very few exceptions. This risk is why it is important to review your damages with the assistance of an experienced Charlotte car accident legal team. Otherwise, you may agree to a settlement that seems fair at first, only to realize you have uncovered costs later on.
In the event that you and the insurance company can’t come to a reasonable settlement agreement, you and your attorney may decide to file a lawsuit demanding compensation. While this lawsuit works its way through the courts, there is still the possibility that a settlement agreement can be reached. Otherwise, the injury victim will have to convince a jury to rule in their favor and award them the damages they sought.
Who Is at Fault in a Hit and Run Accident?
After a hit and run accident, there is no one there to provide a statement or hand you their insurance information. You have to hope you either:
- Can identify the driver after an investigation;
- Have uninsured/under-insured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, or;
- Have collision insurance, and are willing to accept fault.
Drivers flee the scene of an accident for a variety of reasons, and they may not always be technically at-fault for the accident they fled. It is always illegal to flee the accident scene before determining if someone was hurt or if you were responsible for vehicle damages (N.C.G.S. § 20-166). However, someone fleeing the accident scene is not automatically an indicator that that person was at-fault for the crash.
Always report a hit-and-run to the police. They will take down a statement of details you can provide them, potentially including the make and model of the vehicle and any identifying traits of the driver. They will also note the conditions of the accident scene. If they can reasonably determine that the other driver was the one who likely caused the accident, they will not the causal factors in their crash report.
If you have uninsured/under-insured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, it may be able to provide you compensation for your injury treatment costs and vehicle repairs if the other driver was at fault.
While North Carolina has a strict contributory negligence law — which bars anyone from recovering damages if they are at least 1% at-fault for an incident — the burden of proof for asserting this is on the defense (N.C.G.S. § 1-139). In other words, if there is no defendant, there is no one to prevent you from claiming UM/UIM and asserting that the driver who fled was at-fault.
The only situation where you might accept fault for a hit-and-run is if you do not have a UM/UIM policy that covers your accident and you wish to claim collision coverage instead. Any collision claim is an admission of fault, at least in the eyes of the insurance company, so it may cause your insurance rates to rise.
You can choose to work with a Charlotte car accident lawyer after your hit-and-run to investigate your accident. There is a chance you and your attorney may be able to identify and locate the at-fault driver. Even if not, your representing lawyer can increase the chances that your own insurance coverage will provide reasonable compensation for all of your damages.
Should I Call 911 After an Accident?
You should always report your crash, no matter the circumstances. North Carolina law (N.C.G.S. § 20-166) requires you to stop at the scene of any collision and notify police. The law states that any driver, “shall remain with the vehicle at the scene of the crash until a law enforcement officer completes the investigation of the crash or authorizes the driver to leave and the vehicle to be removed.”
Even if the law allowed you to not have to report certain minor crashes, reporting a Charlotte car accident is always a smart idea for the sake of your own insurance claim. Most insurers will not honor liability or UM/UIM claims if a police report is not filed. The police report acts as an official record of the accident, recording factors like who contributed to the crash, whether someone committed a violation, and other key factors used to prove fault and connect injury costs to the crash.
With all this said, you do have the option of dialing a police station directly instead of 911. This may only be advisable if you know no one is injured, your crash is minor, and you wish to not burden the resources of the 911 dispatcher. You have the option to call your local precinct — or, if the accident happened on the highway, the closest North Carolina State Highway Patrol office.
Never be hesitant to dial 911 if you think your accident may involve an emergency or you aren’t sure which local office to call instead. There is no penalty for submitting a 911 call for a crash, even if that crash involves no injuries or doesn’t technically constitute an emergency.
Should I Seek Medical Attention After a Car Accident?
Yes! You should always seek medical attention as soon after your collision as possible. This is not only to reduce the risk that you have an untreated injury, but also because you need a diagnosis from a medical professional before you can claim the costs of an injury on an insurance claim.
If you have visible injuries, pain, or limited mobility after your car accident in Charlotte, visit the closest emergency room as soon as police investigators arriving at the scene clear you to leave. Request an ambulance when reporting your collision if you or anyone else might be seriously injured.
Do not refuse an ambulance if you think you might be seriously injured and paramedics suggest you use medical transport. Refusing an ambulance may potentially be used by insurers later on as evidence that you are not as injured as you claim.
If you think you have only minor injuries or you think that you may not be injured, you should still seek medical attention as soon as reasonably possible after your accident. In lieu of the ER, you can choose to visit your primary care physician or an urgent care clinic in your area.
No matter what situation occurs, always report your symptoms in detail to the medical care provider during your appointment. Consent to all tests and imaging needed to confirm a complete diagnosis of your condition. Review your medical documentation prior to discharge to reduce the risk that someone left out a critical piece of information. Save all of your discharge information, billing information, and receipts for out-of-pocket purchases, such as prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines recommended.
Follow your doctor’s orders to the letter, and attend all necessary follow-ups.
Failing to perform any of these actions can jeopardize your ability to obtain full compensation for all of your accident damages. If you have any questions about seeking compensation or are worried that insurers are going to attempt to deny your claim because you haven’t gotten a full diagnosis, contact an experienced Charlotte car accident lawyer today.
What Is the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Medical Payments?
Both bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance and medical payments (MedPay) insurance pay for the costs of your injury treatment after a car accident. The key difference is that every vehicle owner in North Carolina is required to carry BIL, which pays for the costs of injuries resulting from an accident the policyholder caused. MedPay coverage is an optional supplement, which pays for the costs of injuries to yourself or passengers regardless of who was at-fault for an accident.
MedPay acts as a “first payer” after an accident, meaning it provides the first round of coverage for damages, up to its policy limit. Once the MedPay policy limit is reached, the injury victim can seek compensation through other types of insurance claims, including BIL claims against any at-fault drivers. MedPay insurance is also handy because it can cover your passengers, and it can also cover you in many contexts outside of times you are driving. For instance, if you are hurt in someone else’s vehicle during a collision or hurt during a bicycle accident, there is the possibility that your MedPay policy will cover it.
Because BIL insurance is mandatory in most states, more people are familiar with it, and far more people tend to have it compared to MedPay coverage. However, obtaining MedPay coverage can be beneficial since it can cover you in a variety of situations, regardless of who was at fault for your accident.
What Do I Do If I Get Into an Accident With an Uninsured Driver?
First, always report the accident to the police. While it may be unfortunate that the uninsured driver will get a citation and a fine for not having the minimum insurance, you are obligated by law to report any accident resulting in injury or property damage (N.C.G.S. § 20-166). In lieu of exchanging insurance information, be sure to get the driver’s contact information, including their home address, where they work, and a good daytime phone number to contact them.
You should still get a full diagnosis after your accident, too. Visit the emergency room or a nearby urgent care clinic, describe your symptoms, and consent to all necessary tests. You want to be sure you don’t have any hidden injuries, and you want specific instructions from the doctor on the fastest way for you to recover.
Liability insurance helps protect drivers from exposure to lawsuits. This means that if someone does not have their legally required minimum liability insurance, they can potentially be sued. However, someone who does not carry liability insurance is likely to be economically disadvantaged, which means they will likely have little in the way of assets to repay the costs of your medical treatment and other losses.
Your best bet for recovering compensation after a car accident involving an uninsured driver is to get in touch with an experienced Charlotte car accident lawyer. They can help you identify alternative sources of compensation. This may include a claim under any available uninsured/ under-insured motorist (UM/UIM) policy you have. It may also encompass a claim filed against a separate liable third-party, such as another driver involved in the collision, someone who allowed a road hazard to persist, or the manufacturer of a defective vehicle system that caused your injuries — or at very least caused your injuries to be worse than they normally would have.
The Most Dangerous Intersections in Charlotte
In 2017, there were a total of 126,080 car accidents in Charlotte. About 250 of those resulted in fatalities, and more than 34,000 resulted in non-fatal injuries. In regards to reported crashes, crash severity, crash rates based on population and other factors, Charlotte was the third-most dangerous city with at least 10,000 people in 2017, behind Greenville and Asheville (in that order).
The majority of car accidents happen at intersections as opposed to open stretches of road. According to The Charlotte Observer, the most dangerous intersections in the city often aren’t the busiest. In fact, the most dangerous intersection, Reagan Drive and Tom Hunter Road, only has about 9.300 vehicles driving through each year. Yet, there is an average of 12 crashes a year there, giving it the highest crash rating in Charlotte.
The top 10 most dangerous intersections in the city include:
- Reagan Drive and Tom Hunter Road
- East 12th Street and North Davidson Street
- East 9th Street and North College Street
- Lawning Road, Miranda Road, Oakdale Road and Sunset Roads
- North Irwin Avenue and West 5th Street
- East Sugar Creek Road, North Tryon Street and West Sugar Creek Road
- Brown-Grier Road, Sandy Porter Road and West Arrowood Road
- Mineral Springs Road and Neal Road
- South Church and West Hill Street
- Mineral Springs Road, North Graham Street and West Sugar Creek Road
What You Can Do to Prevent Car Accidents in Charlotte
There are some car wrecks that are simply unavoidable on your part. Maybe a drunk driver doesn’t stop in time and rear-ends you, or perhaps another driver blows through a red light and T-bones you. Though some collisions are out of your hands, there are ways you can avoid being in (or causing) car accidents, including:
- Be patient at lights to avoid red-light runners
- Always focus on the road, even if it means listening to a song on the radio you don’t like or leaving a phone call unanswered
- Pull into traffic slowly, and make sure your path is clear before entering the roadway
- Get your car tuned up regularly to make sure your brakes and other systems are working properly
- Drive defensively, always responding to other drivers’ actions. Never rely on other drivers to respond to your own actions
- Leave room between you and the car in front of you so you can brake in time if needed
Serving the Charlotte Community for Over 20 Years
The Charlotte auto accident attorneys at Auger & Auger have been successfully helping members of the Charlotte community involved in car accidents for 20 years. We have three offices serving Charlotte and surrounding areas to better serve our clients. If you cannot come to us, we will come to you. We also offer remote video conferencing meetings (Skype) with our attorneys. We can also send and exchange signed documents via your cell phone, tablet or computer. We know how difficult it is in the weeks following the accident and want to do everything we can to relieve the stress that our clients are going through during this time period.
Your Consultation Is Free, and We Do Not Collect a Fee Unless Recovery
When you call or email the Charlotte car accident lawyers at Auger & Auger, your case will be evaluated by one of our lawyers. Appointments can be scheduled for evenings or even weekends, and if you are unable to come to one of our conveniently located offices, we can meet you at your doctor’s office, your job, or your home.
By: Courtney Neishell
I was in a car accident after moving to the Charlotte area, with all that comes with moving and then the stress of an accident, everyone who I met and worked with made this process so easy! I was super happy with my outcome! I would recommend this firm to anyone!